What was it about Charlton Heston? There was the pumped up hyper-masculine appeal. The likelihood that he would be shirtless, and sometimes pantsless, on film. The gruff voice rang that 1970s masculinity. All things that would be typical components of a gay icon in the manner of Steve McQueen.
Then there were the mitigating factors. The religious film roles. The gun fanaticism. The conversion from someone that would campaign for Adlai Stevenson, John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy to one that would campaign for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
Even with the above in balance the potential for position as gay icon existed, but it was plainly rejected by the actor. Despite Ben Hur co-writer Gore Vidal's statements that there was a gay subtext to the film, Heston denied that it existed. (The clip below might say otherwise.)
Heston died yesterday at home with his wife of 64 years at his side. Following are a few clips of the actor in action in Ben Hur, The Omega Man, Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green and, um, The Colbys. (Full size after the jump.)